Stab’s Picks For The 2017 Big Wave Awards (So Far!)
It’s a semiannual event, right?
We still have a few months until the WSL Big Wave Awards are held in Irvine. But with the recent run of swell around the globe, the XXL Awards’ Youtube channel has been lighting up. Now at the halfway point of the big wave season, we figured we’d pick our favourite rides, barrels, and wipeouts, so you wouldn’t have to. And while this year sadly hasn’t lived up to the hype left by the previous (El Nino winter) one, there’s certainly enough material to dine on.
And so, here are Stab‘s picks for the (halfway point of the) 2017 Big Wave Awards, sans red carpet, fancy awards show, oversized checks, and oversized clothing.
Ride Of The Year (watch above)
Kai Lenny, Jaws, November 11
It’s hard to put a finger on the most impressive aspect of this wave. While the way Kai sets a clean line, carves beautifully, and launches himself like it’s a three foot wave is spectacular on its own, the fact that he whipped into it just minutes after being punished for hours on end as a competitor in the 2016 Pe’ahi Challenge, really makes this immense (and that’s not the kinda thing taken into account by the judges of these awards). It’s not the biggest wave of the Hawaiian winter, but as far as conversations go, it certainly generated the most talk.
Nic Lamb, Jaws, November 11
Another flame lit during the Pe’ahi Challenge. After a monumental air drop, Nic Lamb wrestles the flight stick and straightens out before getting absolutely detonated. Certainly one of the most dramatic waves so far this year.
XXL Biggest Wave
Sebastian Steudtner, Nazaré, October 24
The spewing, behemoth hellscape known as Nazaré has been on everyone’s radar for quite some time now. But just because its hype has faded, doesn’t mean it’s consequently slowed down when it comes to providing material for the most dedicated chargers. Here, German surfer Sebastian Steudtner challenges a monstrous outside peak, escaping the ensuing destruction just before it can engulf him. Extra points for the pulled-back perspective, which shows just how massive the peak is even when compared to the everyday Nazaré nightmare. Both spectacular, and frightening.
Damien Hobgood, Cloudbreak, May 23
Damien Hobgood (and brother CJ, for that matter) has been a lowkey big wave weapon for some time now. Here, the Floridian goofyfooter charges full throttle down a flawless Cloudbreak wall, rifling into not just one, but two phenomenal hangers. Although he isn’t able to squeeze out of the conclusive tub, his performance is enough to yield the nod for this category. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to feel the thunder of this wave in real life, you’ll know how wild this really is.
Matt Rott, Maverick’s, November 6
Everyone’s favourite category that an unlucky few get to participate in. When it comes to beatdowns this winter, Matt Rott may not have gone down on the biggest wave, but he sure got the worst of it. After what appears to be a clean take off, Matt fumbles the drop, subsequently skipping like a stone about a quarter of the way down the face. Adding insult to injury, his ragdolled body is viciously flogged by cold tonnes of north Californian water. Not an enviable position to be in. Hopefully he’s rewarded for his misfortune.
In regards to overall performance, it’s hard to disagree that someone as seasoned as Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker deserves a place above the rest. And the South African charger has once again filled out his passport sniffing out monster swells this year. From Puerto Escondido, to Jaws, to Mavericks, Twiggy continues to perform with gusto. With younger gen like Kai Lenny going all out this winter as well, it’s wildly impressive that the shaggy-haired 44-year-old continues to shine.
If you’re searching for inspiration, here’s some. Coming back from injury, Maya whipped into this mammoth at the same spot that nearly killed her three years back. Shining in a situation most would shy away from, Maya continues to shatter big-wave barriers, physical and otherwise – this girl certainly has her critics (looking at you, Laird), but that sure hasn’t stopped her.
Bonus Award: Best Board
Nato Gonzalez, Punta de Lobos, June 19
By no means is this the biggest wave, barrel, or drop. Or even close to the worst wipeout. No, what makes this video interesting is the craft of choice of our subject, Spanish charger Nato Gonzalez: 10 feet in length, blue and white stripes, very minimal rocker. Is he dropping in on… a Wavestorm? If this is the case, do we have a new contender for ride of the year?
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